Teeth were chattering, bones were shaking, and hearts were pounding inside the WVU Coliseum on Monday evening.
It took three overtimes and three potential game winners, but the West Virginia men’s basketball team snapped their five-game losing streak by knocking off TCU, 104-96.
West Virginia (11-17, 3-12 Big 12) was led by the freshman duo of Jordan McCabe and Derek Culver who led the Mountaineers in scoring with 25 and 22 points, respectively. That was just the beginning of their memorable games.
While McCabe’s 25 points marked his season high in points, Culver’s 22 points and 21 rebounds marked the first Mountaineer to record a twenty plus point and rebound mark since 1977.
The Mountaineers could finally take a sigh of relief as they didn’t need to hit a game winning shot at the end of triple overtime and led the ballgame, 104-96.
With the game clock expiring to end regulation, West Virginia forced a key turnover as McCabe dished up a shot which didn’t have enough to fall through the net and sent the game to overtime, knotted up at 68-68.
Five minutes later, McCabe found himself in the same position, this time with the score knotted up at 77-77. Yet again, the freshman wasn’t able to find the net and sent the game into double overtime.
The conclusion of double overtime was a similar story, this time it came down to Culver. The freshman, once again was unable to finish his layup and sent the Mountaineers to triple overtime, notched at 88-88.
“What was really great to me is they were in the huddle saying, ‘we’re not going to lose’ which I haven’t heard since JC (Jevon Carter) left,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins.
Although the Mountaineers continue to limp toward the end of the season, West Virginia has plenty to be excited about with McCabe finally stepping up and making an impact after what has been a long and trying season.
“I’m not looking over his shoulder now, that makes all the difference in the world when you know you’re going to play and you can play through some mistakes… I think that makes all the difference in the world,” explained Huggins.
The freshman notched his second season career high in points after totaling 22 points against Baylor on Saturday. Culver only fell one-point shy of his career high mark of 23 points against Texas Tech on Feb. 4.
McCabe continued his success from last game right off the bat after nailing a three pointer in the opening minutes to cut the West Virginia deficit to 8-9 with 12 minutes remaining.
“Patience is really, really important, I think college basketball has a way of eating away at guys confidence, especially their first season… it’s got a way of weighing on you, but we’ve got great coaches, great players around us,” explained McCabe on his improved play the last few games.
The Mountaineers shot a 44 percent field goal mark on the night while going 36-82 in that category and a lowly 32 percent from beyond the three-point arc.
West Virginia will be back in action Saturday afternoon when they travel to Oklahoma at 2 p.m. on ESPNU.